The history of April baseball is littered with cautionary tales. 
Success in the season’s first month doesn’t guarantee success in the season’s following five months. Heck, success in April doesn’t even guarantee success in May or June. Remember Chris Shelton? In his first 13 games of 2006, Shelton hit nine home runs, five doubles, three triples and had 17 RBIs for the Tigers. 
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It was incredible, watching him crush the ball day after day. Shelton came crashing back to earth. He hit just .244 with seven homers in his next 89 games and was sent back to Triple-A at the end of July. 
The first month of the 2018 season produced its fair share of surprises, too. Nothing quite as shocking as Shelton, but several of the jaw-dropping variety. Let’s take a look. 
Ozzie Albies, Braves

What he’s done: .922 OPS, 22 extra-base hits in 29 games, 1.1 rWAR, NL-best 30 runsWill it last? The Braves have been excited for Albies’ arrival for a long time, which feels like a strange thing to say about a kid who just turned 21 in January. But nobody was expecting this type of offensive production in his first full season in the bigs, though. Albies has 12 doubles (tied with teammate Freddie Freeman for tops in the NL), one triple and nine home runs, one off the NL lead. Those 22 extra-base hits? They’re tied for the most in the majors, with Boston superstar Mookie Betts. Yeah.
Three years ago, as an 18-year-old in Single-A, Albies hit zero homers in 439 plate appearances. Two years ago, as a 19-year-old splitting his time in Double-A and Triple-A, Albies hit six home runs in 618 plate appearances. Last year, Albies hit six homers in 97 games at Triple-A and six more in 57 games in the majors. That’s a solid jump, but still nothing compared to nine homers in 29 games. Don’t expect him to swat 45 homers this year, but it’s fair to say the expectations for his power potential should be adjusted upward. 
Didi Gregorius, Yankees

What he’s done: .330, 10 homers, 30 RBIs, 1.136 OPS, 2.1 rWARWill it last? At this point, it’s foolish to doubt Sir Didi. What he’s done in New York, from replacing Derek Jeter as the Yankees’s shortstop to becoming not just an acceptable piece of a decent lineup to an irreplaceable cog in baseball’s most powerful lineup, is amazing. Even after hitting 20 homers in 2016 and 25 more in 2017, Gregorius’ opening month of the 2018 season was pretty amazing. He’s probably not going to hit 10 homers every month and finish with 60 on the year, but 30 homers? 35 homers? It’s foolish to doubt Sir Didi.
Matt Kemp, Dodgers

What he’s done: .300/.337/.500, 4 homers, 13 RBIs, .837 OPSWill it last? When the Dodgers traded for Matt Kemp this offseason, it was seen mostly as a salary play. They took on Kemp’s money for the next couple of years and traded the 2018 money they owed to Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy to Atlanta. From a Los Angeles Times column at the time: “The Dodgers probably won’t even keep Kemp, and certainly won’t miss Gonzalez. This deal isn’t about these actual players, it’s not even about this actual season.” Turns out, Kemp has been pretty important to the Dodgers this season. 
With injuries all around — Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig and Logan Forsythe are all on the DL at the moment — and other hitters struggling at the plate, Kemp has actually been one of the only reliable pieces of the lineup. But will it last? It didn’t last year when he was in Atlanta. Kemp was batting .326 with a .917 OPS through mid-June, but tailed off drastically the rest of the year, batting just .221 with a 631 OPS in his final 58 games of the season. He’s in better shape this year, a fact that’s been well documented, and he’s back where he had his greatest success in the majors. And even though it feels like he’s been around forever, he’s still only 33.
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Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks

What he’s done: 2.25 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 5.2 H/9, 12.4 K/9, 0.750 WHIPWill it last? Corbin is an excellent pitcher, but injuries and other struggles have kept him from becoming the pitcher many envisioned when he made the All-Star team in his Age 23 season for the Diamondbacks and finished with a 3.41 ERA/3.43 FIP. So it’s not even the 2.25 ERA or 0.750 WHIP that puts him on this list. We knew he was capable of those things. No, what lands him on this list is his crazy-high strikeout rate. 
Corbin has struck out 55 hitters in 40 innings, a rate of 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings. His career rate heading into 2018 was 7.9. The biggest reason for the increase? He’s shifted how he uses his pitches, focusing more on using his devastating slider. This piece, from the Washington Post, does an excellent job breaking down the change. Only three starting pitchers with a qualifying number of innings since 2000 have finished with a K/9 rate of better than 12.4 (Randy Johnson twice, Chris Sale and Jose Fernandez), so while it’s not likely Corbin joins that group, it is likely that this new approach on the mound will help him top his career best of 178 strikeouts in a season. 
Sean Manaea, A’s

What he’s done: 1.03 ERA, 4.1 H/9, 5.29 K/BBWill it last? Oh, and Manaea tossed that nifty no-hitter, too. Scouts have long loved Manaea’s potential; he was a first-round draft pick by the Royals in 2013 and was shipped to Oakland in 2015 as the key to a deal that landed Ben Zobrist in Kansas City. That worked for the Royals, of course. Zobrist was a huge part of the franchise’s World Series championship that fall. But what Manaea is doing now is why the Royals were hesitant to move him. He won’t finish the year with a 1.03 ERA, of course, but he’s the kind of guy who will make multiple All-Star games in his career, if he stays healthy. 

Gerrit Cole, Astros

What he’s done: 1.73 ERA/1.88 FIP, 0.792 WHIP, 5.4 H/9, 13.2 K/9Will it last? Cole is going to have a huge year. We’ve seen what he’s capable of; the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft finished fourth in the 2015 NL Cy Young voting, but he made only 21 starts in 2016 because of injuries and then struggled through his “worst” season in 2017, posting a 4.26 ERA. The Astros traded for him to enhance their drive to repeat as World Series champions, and so far he’s been exactly what they’ve hoped for. He’s gone into the seventh inning in all six of his starts, struck out at least 11 batters in four of those six starts and has yet to allow more than six hits. The AL Cy Young is a possibility.  (function() {
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